If you’re relatively new to SEO, you might never have heard of niche edits. You’ve probably seen the technique being used at least once without realizing it, and it’s a good way for companies to get strong links to their site without having to build them up from scratch.
What Are They?
When you’re buying normal backlinks, you’ll usually get them as part of a new piece of content: for example, if your brand sells footwear, you might pay companies to create and/or host pieces of content about shoes that include a link to your brand somewhere. While these links will have a lot of potential, and can be extremely powerful in their own right, they won’t always succeed to the level you’re expecting.
Niche edits are the opposite and are essentially a context-appropriate backlink that’s inserted into a piece of content that already exists. This can either be done with a topically relevant keyword that already exists or in a new piece of content that’s added to the old piece as an update: either way, if you insert a new link into content that already exists, it’s generally considered to be a niche edit.
Do They Work?
Like all kinds of backlinks, niche edits are mainly for search engine optimization purposes, but popular articles can also draw in quite a few potential customers and users. They’re often far easier to get that creating an entirely new piece of content, and it’s often much more subtle than a promotional post. They’re one of the best kinds of paid backlinks in terms of sheer SEO power, making them a valuable choice for nearly any business.
Obviously, this won’t always be the case. Depending on the accuracy, relevance, popularity, and legitimacy of the niche edit, it can still suffer from the same problems as a regular link, with the added risk of being penalized by Google themselves.
What Kind of Penalties?
Google has started to catch on to the idea of niche edits, and they’ve made sure to extend the regular link rules to cover it. If all that happens is a link changing on an old page, they’ll notice, and you won’t get as much of a boost from the link as you were expecting. If it’s a severely bad case, the host site might even get punished for it, too.
In Google’s eyes, an update to old content should be about an improvement or extension, rather than just a link being swapped out. Adding a handful of new paragraphs that conveniently happen to link back to your site is perfectly fine, but simply pasting a link somewhere in the middle of an article will net you almost nothing in return. If the link is irrelevant to the article and is clearly forced in as a desperate attempt to gain domain or page authority, expect to see even harsher penalties.
How Do I Make A Good Niche Edit?
It’s already been touched on, but relevance and context are extremely important. However, you can’t always just approach a site and ask to be linked-to in their content: even if it would be a good fit, they might have their own quality standards that they want to stick to, and obvious links to very specific sites can reflect badly on their reputation.
On the other hand, there are dozens of possible reasons a site might have room for a new link on an old piece of content. Perhaps one of their links leads to a dead site that needs replacing, or maybe they’ve made a statement that one of your pages can back up as a reference. In extreme cases, you might even be able to convince them to swap out a link to an existing site with your own, especially if you offer better information or a more relevant page. As long as you have a believable excuse for replacing or updating the link that Google can see from a technical side, you’ll be able to keep most of the original content’s power without running into any large penalties.
Finding the perfect situation to approach a site for a niche edit is tricky, and it’s mainly used for small-scale link building, but it can be extremely useful and powerful if done correctly. Treat it like a surgeon treats a scalpel – it’s great for making very specific and careful changes, but it’s most effective when it’s used alongside a wide range of other tools.